The Crossroads of Globalization: A Latin American View
By Alfredo Toro Hardy
World Scientific, 2019, 232 pp.
Globalization, Competitiveness, and Governability: The Three Disruptive Forces of Business in the 21st Century
By Ricardo Ernst and Jerry Haar
Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, 184 pp.
Toro Hardy, a retired senior Venezuelan diplomat and a prolific author, surveys the critical literature on globalization from a center-left Latin American perspective. He accepts globalization as a given and recites a familiar litany of “neoliberal” sins: market fundamentalism, austerity, inequality. Nor, however, is Toro Hardy enamored of populists who “are obsessed with the wrong issues and bygone eras.” Rather, he reserves his more optimistic, and provocative, commentary for the upcoming technological disruptions of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, where he sees dangers but also opportunities for Latin America. Technologies such as 3-D printing will “decouple” South America from the industrialized nations, reducing commercial exchanges between the North and the South. Meanwhile, Mexico and the Caribbean basin could benefit from an expansion of supply chains within the region. Massive urbanization in China and India will help generate further growth in the region by increasing demand for resource-based commodities. Toro Hardy urges Latin America to cooperatively pool its resources, assisting “high-tech artisans” in reindustrializing the region on its own terms.
Ernst and Haar have put together a solid, accessible primer that usefully summarizes both the social science and the business literatures across the related themes outlined in the book’s title. Some prominent ones, such as the rule of law, corruption, and global supply chain strategies have ready application to Latin America. In their conclusion, the authors remark that in Latin America, global disruptions are generating both right-wing and left-wing forms of populism but are also reducing poverty and generating greater citizen involvement in civic life. The authors add that the most sweeping impacts of the disruptions in the region have been in business: Latin America is the world’s fastest-growing area for businesses such as Airbnb, Coursera, Netflix, and Uber.